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Sports Applications Technology

Wheelings & Dealings: Strava Raises $18.5 Million in VC Funding as Fitness Industry Set for Rapid Growth

October 31, 2014


According to Re/code, Strava has just raised $18.5 million in venture capital funding. The funds are to help the company become more of a factor internationally and lead the way as a social medium for endurance athletes. It also comes at a time when wearable fitness is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years.

San Francisco-based Strava is a site that allows endurance athletes like runners and cyclists to track their workouts in what has become its own social medium. With a GPS device or smartphone, users can have their workouts, typically running or cycling, mapped. The data mostly consists of coordinates and time and is uploaded to the site after the workout. An app or the site calculates things like speed, distance and calories burned from the data provided.

With additional supported devices, like a heart rate monitor, it’s also possible to track a user’s pulse and compute a ‘suffer score’ that measures the user’s pain and workout intensity.

Users can view their workout stats with a browser or mobile device. The site allows users to connect with each other similar to Facebook or Twitter (News - Alert), give each other encouragement and engage in friendly competition with each other. Since runners and cyclists often traverse the same areas, various segments can be stored and the person with the fastest time on a given segment becomes ‘king of the mountain’.

VentureBeat claims that it is that social element of competition and encouragement that Strava wants to take advantage of. One of the VC investors, Sequoia Capital (News - Alert), played a large role in the growth of LinkedIn and hopes to do the same for Strava.

The company also seeks international expansion. Currently it is available in 11 languages, although most international users are from English-speaking countries outside the U.S.

Anyone following the wearable fitness industry knows that it is currently very fragmented with numerous wearable devices like FitBit, Moto360, Samsung and soon Apple among the more prominent choices. Google (News - Alert) Fit and Apple HealthKit are wrestling for control of the health dashboard market.

Strava finds itself in two different roles when it comes to Apple (News - Alert) and Google. It developed an iOS app over the summer to integrate with Apple HealthKit.

Strava’s Google Play page indicates the latest version of its Android (News - Alert) app was released Oct. 14, and has no mention of integration with Google Fit, which was released Oct. 28. As it turns out, Google Fit integrates with Strava.

Strava’s best strategy seems to be to continue what it is doing in becoming a social medium for endurance sport athletes. At the same time it should continue to maintain the good relationships it seems to have with Apple and Google. Inclusiveness will help Strava meet its goals, rather than trying to compete with those two. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle